Honkin' Mad

Soon you’ll be able to ride TEXRail from Fort Worth all the way to Plano. Here’s how.

TEXRail is already a popular commuter train service that opened in February, connecting riders from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport.

Now, imagine if you could take that train all the way from Fort Worth to Plano.

There’s a strong chance you’ll be able to do that starting in 2022.

Currently, TEXRail, which is run by Fort Worth’s transit agency, Trinity Metro, goes no further north than DFW Airport’s Terminal B. But Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which provides public transportation for the eastern part of the Metroplex, is aggressively building a project known as the Cotton Belt Line, which will pick up where TEXRail leaves off.

The Cotton Belt Line, which is scheduled to open by late 2022, will run from TEXRail’s terminus at DFW Airport all the way to Plano.

The move essentially will double the amount of territory covered by TEXRail, which already serves 27 miles in Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Grapevine and DFW. DART’s Cotton Belt line will add another 26 miles in Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano.

On Monday, DART officials announced that they had reached a deal to buy Cotton Belt cars from Stadler U.S., a Salt Lake City-based arm of Switzerland railroad vehicle manufacturer Stadler Bussnang. The move, worth an estimated $119 million according to the publication Railway Age, ensures that the TEXRail and Cotton Belt cars are interoperable on the same tracks.

But, for those who desire to take the train from Fort Worth to Plano, your journey probably will require a transfer.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Cotton Belt commuter rail map Photo courtesy of DART

Passengers arriving at DFW Airport on TEXRail will need to disembark their rail car and transfer to DART’s Cotton Belt Line at either the DFW North Station (north of the airport’s terminals, in a runway clear zone), or the DFW Terminal B Station (on the ground level of the terminal).

Right now, although both Trinity Metro and DART are buying their cars from Stadler, it doesn’t look like representatives from the two agencies have an interest in running the red and blue TEXRail cars all the way to Plano, nor the yellow DART rail cars all the way to Fort Worth. Instead, they will meet in the middle at DFW Airport, and let their passengers transfer from one set of trains to the other.

The Stadler FLIRT cars are designed to provide a smooth passenger ride comparable to many metro services in Europe, while also meeting U.S. safety requirements to operate on freight railroad tracks.

The rail cars are self-propelled and operate on diesel-powered electrical generators. They also feature level boarding at stations, which makes it much easier for people with wheelchairs, strollers and other mobility devices to board the trains.

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.